Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher says Arsenal are becoming over-reliant on winning games by finite margins and that could derail their title chase later in the season.
The Gunners currently sit top of the Premier League table, a point better off than second-placed Manchester City, having secured five of their nine victories by single-goal margins.
That includes a 1-0 win over City in early October, as well as a 1-0 triumph in their latest league outing against Brentford, where Kai Havertz found an 89th-minute winner.
Carragher believes Arsenal will ultimately come unstuck in their challenge for a first league title since 2003-04 if they are not able to win games more convincingly – highlighting a particular drop-off in attacking productivity.
“We’re still only a third of the way through the season, but I think if Arsenal continue how they are, if this is the Arsenal we’re going to see this season, I don’t think they can win the league,” Carragher said on Monday Night Football.
“I think so many games are going to the wire and sometimes that can go against you – you think of the [Aaron] Ramsdale mistake and the big chance Brentford had in the second half at the weekend.
“Those games that finish 1-0 can easily go 1-0 the other way.”
Carra says Arsenal are lacking the kind of fluidity and energy that made them so dangerous last season, with attacking output from key players not yet hitting the same heights.
“For me, when we’re talking about a different Arsenal – we can see it with the stats, but everyone can see with their eyes.
“It’s not the same fluidity, the same pace, energy and creating chances – you can see that.
Arsenal’s fine margins
- Aug 12: Arsenal 2-1 Nottm Forest
- Aug 21: Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal
- Sept 17: Everton 0-1 Arsenal
- Oct 8: Arsenal 1-0 Man City
- Nov 25: Brentford 0-1 Arsenal
“The reason I don’t think they are as fluid is that individually, the attacking players have been average this season, whereas they were on absolute fire last season in terms of [Gabriel] Martinelli, [Bukayo] Saka and [Gabriel] Jesus.
“[Martin] Odegaard for me last season was up there alongside Kevin De Bruyne, but I know he’s had a few injury problems.”
Monday Night Football guest, and former Arsenal forward Freddie Ljungberg, believes Arsenal are equipped to challenge Man City for Premier League honours but need to focus on rediscovering their attacking impetus.
“I think definitely they’re ready to challenge for the title,” he said, “but the stats here are quite telling to be honest and I don’t think that will work in their favour.
“If I look at City, you almost have to be 10 points in front of them at Christmas, because they’re always so strong in the spring.
“One thing I would take into consideration is that other teams now have respect for Arsenal – the same way they approach a game against City.
“Teams approach with the same game plan, it’s to destroy what Arsenal are doing, and that makes it harder for them in open play to score as many goals.”